Jim Siergey: A Trip To Mars

November 19th, 2017

We were driving back to Chicago from a stay in northern Wisconsin. As we neared the Illinois border my wife suggested we stop at Mars Cheese Castle for a pit stop and to perhaps grab a bite to eat.

As any Chicagoan who has traveled north of the border knows, Mars Cheese Castle is a landmark. It has been around since 1947 but only in recent years has it undergone reconstruction and now actually looks like a castle…by midwestern standards, anyway.

There is an abundance of cheese to be purchased there but also sausages, meats, chocolates, bakery items (Kringles!), wines and locally brewed beers. There is also a stand where one can buy ready made food and, of course, the long-time horseshoe-shaped bar where you can sit and toss back a tall one.

As I viewed a poster extolling their new beer, “Mars Red Planet Ale” (get it, huh, get it?), I wished I cared more for beer because I was tempted to purchase some but I knew that after tasting one bottle, the rest would sit around for years.

The wife and I both wandered away in different directions as we purveyed the various rooms within the castle. I was surveying one of the cheese displays when I heard a voice next to me say, “Hey, look, they have ‘Chocolate Cheese’.”

Now that I am an old man I have no compunctions against directing my comments toward strangers so I tossed my two cents into the ether.

“They used to call it ‘Chudge’.”

I looked to my side and saw a thin, young man in a crewcut looking quizzically at me.


Jim is not from Wisconsin–but these guys…


For the young man’s benefit, I expounded, “Y’know, Cheese…Fudge, Chudge! They stopped calling it that years ago as I guess it wasn’t descriptive enough but it’ll always be Chudge to me.”

“Oh.” he responded in comprehension and then asked, “How’s it taste?”

“Well, it kinda tastes like cheese and it sorta tastes like chocolate.”, I clumsily explained in overtly obvious terms, ” It is quite a perfect blend but…” I dramatically paused as to allow the gravity of what I was about to say grab his attention span sturdily by the shoulders and look him straight in the eyes before continuing, “…it is not for all tastes. Many people do not like it. Many people will not even deign to taste it! However, my wife and I, we do like it.”

I could see the scales in the head of this young man weighing the pros and cons of what I had just revealed to him. He looked at me and asked his follow up question.

“Are you from Wisconsin?”

“No”, I replied, perhaps a bit too quickly, “I’m from over the border but I’ve been here many times.”

He then revealed to me that he was from Kentucky and he was stopping here on his way home. He thanked me and we parted company. Perhaps it was the permeating aroma of casein but I felt that a sense of interstate diplomacy had taken place.

I found my wife by the deli case where she was being educated on the difference between braunschweiger and liverwurst. We were given a sample of liverwurst to taste and I reacted by stating that it was the best damn liverwurst I had ever tasted.

We left with a purchase of a pound of that tantalizing spread and a loaf of cocktail rye of which, when we returned home, we oven-toasted and consumed several slices topped with a thick schmeer of liverwurst and a slice of onion.

Sometimes, life is good, eh?


Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Joe Henry



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Jim Siergey: Joe Henry

November 10th, 2017

I dreamt that I was in a music store in Evanston where I overheard some buzz about Joe Henry coming into the place.

(Joe Henry is an American singer and songwriter. He has a unique jazz-oriented sound and his lyrics and voice can be dreamlike. Coincidence? I think not.)

I thought that perhaps he’d play, put on an impromptu little concert or something, so I decided to stick around.

While I was waiting I felt like I should do something so I grabbed a paint brush and begin painting on a back drop that was hanging against a wall in the rear of the shop.

All I had to work with was a can of black paint so I outlined some of the designs but it got rather boring and it was not a very good brush so I decided to stop but I needed to clean the brush.

There were a few stairs to the left of me that led to the basement so down I went. To my surprise the basement had been entirely cleared out. There wasn’t even a sink.


Sing it, Joe…


I went back upstairs and I noticed someone washing his hands beneath a tiny tap that was inserted into the corner where two walls met. I asked him if that was the only available running water and he said it was. He also told me that I could use it to clean the brush.

There was nothing beneath the tap so the water ran right onto the floor but I did my best to rinse off the brush without making too much of a mess. (I’m a considerate fellow even while asleep.)

Just then Joe Henry came in. He and the music store owner began speaking and moving around in such a manner that it seemed like a play.

“Oh”, I thought, “Perhaps it’s some sort of performance art.”

But, after a few moments of what seemed like theatrical interplay, Joe Henry went and sat down on one side of two long tables that had little cubicle-like dividers.

Placed on the table top within the dividers were keyboards inside an open-topped wooden box.

As he began tinkering with the keys, I noticed that there were a handful of other people situated at some of the other keyboard cubicles and they were all playing various riffs and scales and the sort.

I realized that they were here to practice their piano playing, as was Joe. Apparently, besides being a music store, this was a practice room for musicians.

There would be no impromptu concert.

The sounds of all the various people practicing various riffs resulted in a gentle cacophony.

Disappointed, I donned my coat and hat and walked down the aisle to leave. While doing so, Joe Henry abruptly got up and we bumped into one another.

Curiously, up close he looked like a young Jimmie Page with a touch of Oscar Wilde.

Since he was now aware of my presence I related to him this very tale.

When I finished, he blankly looked at me and then walked on by.

(Dionne Warwick, I’m with you, girl.)


Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Par Boiled


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Randolph Street: The Woods

November 8th, 2017

1DSCF0614Fisherman–Lac Seul, Canada


2DSCF0542Shore Formation






5DSCF0592Month Old Moose




All photos © Jon Randolph


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Jim Siergey: Par Boiled

November 1st, 2017

The Third City’s sports, leisure, entertainment and self-proclaimed sexiest blogger, Milo, recently posted about golfing. This stirred up several yards of golfing memories of my own.

Most of my golfing took place as a teen. It began in northern Wisconsin, to where my grandfather had retired. He took up golf at the age of seventy. My father (his son) was an avid golfer, as was my mother, so when we went up to visit I found myself on the links with them, making up a foursome.

I wasn’t very good but not terrible. All it takes is a good shot once in a while to make the nine (or god forbid, eighteen) hole trek worthwhile.

With friends I also golfed around town on various courses, but duffers were we all.

In my late twenties, a couple of guys with whom I worked at the harp shop announced that they would like to try their hands at the game of golf. Since I had the experience, I told them I would act as their mentor and guru so one day we went off to the Waveland public golf course situated right between Lake Shore Drive and Lake Michigan.

We each paid five dollars to gain entry to the fairways and greens of the nine hole course. I couldn’t even guess what the costs are these days but I’m sure they’d make me faint.


The Third City golfers…


Being the “old pro”, I led off in teeing up my ball on the first hole. The first tee was only a few feet from the clubhouse. Along with my partners and the others waiting to take their turns after us, I had quite an audience behind me.

Realizing both that and the fact that I hadn’t swung a golf club in a decade at the least, I began to feel a bit self-conscious and nervous.

But, I steadied myself, kept my eye on the white orb sitting atop the little wooden tee, began my backswing and proceeded to do exactly what I hoped I wouldn’t do.

I whiffed.

I tried to pretend that it was merely a practice swing but since I had to extricate myself from the coiled position I found myself in on the ground, I don’t think my pretension went over very well.

Regaining my composure, I riveted my glare upon that damn tiny white ball even more intensely, concentrated even more deeply upon meeting it with the head of my driver and once again swung mightily.

This time, I did the second thing I hoped that I wouldn’t do.

I sliced it straight into the lake. Ker-plop!

I had only one option left. It was one I often used when I found myself frustrated on the greeneries, roughs and sandtraps of a golf course.

I unzipped the pocket of my golf bag, withdrew a new ball and heaved it as far as I could onto the fairway.

That, by the way, is how my golf “career” was eventually cut short — a rotator cuff injury.


Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was The Maltese Twit

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Randolph Street: Sing A Song

November 1st, 2017


Pete Seeger–1978



Leonard Cohen & Judy Collins–1976


3John Prine

John Prine–1980



BB King at Cook County Jail–1971



Pete Seeger–1978


All photos © Jon Randolph


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Jim Siergey: The Maltese Twit

October 28th, 2017

It was a cold, damp night and the cops were huddled around the dead body on the wharf.

“It’s Miles Archer, all right.” one of them said.

“Has his partner been notified?”

“Yeah, he’s on his way.”

“Who’s his partner?” a young policeman asked.

“You don’t know?” a crusty old-timer replied, “Here he comes now, Sam Strump.”

Emerging from a solid gold Cadillac was a tall, brawny man with a shock of orange hair swirled atop his head in such a manner that it resembled a sleeping baby orangutan. He was attired in a well-tailored blue suit, starched white shirt with gold cuff links the size of hamsters, a long red tie that reached nearly to the tops of his Louis Vuitton Maestro Cardinal Richelieu shoes. A golden-knobbed mahogany cane that looked the size of a Redwood in his unnaturally small hand was quickly tossed to his snowy-haired chauffeur who stood stiffly and obsequiously at his side.

“Well, well,” Strump said as he lumbered toward the men in blue, “I hope this isn’t another case of fake news that has brought me out here in the middle of the night. I was enjoying a slice of the most beautiful chocolate cake when I received the call. You wouldn’t believe how beautiful this cake was. It was chocolate and it was beautiful, believe me. And I know…”

“It’s Archer.” One of the cops interrupted.


“Your partner, Miles Archer.”


“Yes., your…” the lawman paused as he saw Strump busy with his cell phone.



“What are you doing?”


Sam Strump…


“Oh, just sending out a tweet about how inept the police force is. Continue, officer.”

“It’s about Miles.”


“Your, you know…” he swallowed hard before proceeding, ” your…guy.”

“Oh! My guy! What about him?”

“He’s dead.”

“I knew that. I could have told you that before I even received the call. There are a lot of bad hombres around here, you know, very very very bad hombres. We’ll need to round up all the Mexicans and Muslims and begin vetting them and I mean extreme vetting, believe me.”

Strump noticed a reporter nearby.

“What’s your name, honey?”

“I’m a reporter with the Daily…WHOA! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” she screamed as she leaped back from Strump’s miniscule, but expertly groping, hand.

“What? I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just can’t help myself. When you’re a star, and I am—bigly, believe me, you can do anything. Come on, let me kiss you. I do the best kisses.You know you want it.”

The reporter retorted with an “Ugh!” and slapped him across his tomato can of a face.

“What a nasty woman.” the detective declared, rubbing his cheek, “Total sleazebag.”

“Sam, look,” an officer said, as he took Strump by the arm, leading him to the body of Archer. “I think we may have a clue as to the murderer of Miles.”


“Your partn—your guy.”

“Oh, yes, my guy. Oh, don’t worry about clues. I have already solved the case. I’m a winner, you know, I do this sort of thing all the time. You won’t believe who the killer is. I don’t think anybody in the history of both the known and unknown world would ever have been able to solve this murder as quickly as I have, believe me. I’m the greatest detective who has ever detected. Nobody knows more about detecting than I do. Nobody.”

“Well, who did it?”

Strump smiled smugly, like a little rich boy who has taken his ball home leaving the other children in tears, and said: I’ll keep you in suspense.”

He turned and began walking back toward his car.

The cop tagged after, imploringly.

“I thought that when a man’s partner is killed, he’s supposed to do something about it.”

Strump stopped and muttered, “He knew what he signed up for.”

Strump’s snowy-haired servant opened the Caddy’s door for him as he settled his large frame inside.

As the officer stood outside the golden transport with a bewildered look upon his face, Strump rolled down the window and beckoned with a tiny finger for him to approach.

The constable came closer and bent over to hear what the dick had to say.

“Covfefe”, he whispered.

“Covfefe? What’s that?”

As he rolled the window up, he sneered, “The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of.”

The yuge, er, huge vehicle sped off, leaving the puzzled patrolman alone, breathing in the carcinogens from the receding exhaust fumes.

He removed his cap, scratched his balding pate and asked, “Huh?”


Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Jerome

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Randolph Street: Ghostly

October 25th, 2017


Cementerio de la Recoleta–Buenos Aires











All photos © Jon Randolph


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